Efforts large and small speed science reform

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Science  13 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6385, pp. 164
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat6341

The Working Life article “Instagram won't solve inequality” (M. Wright, 16 March, p. 1294) asserts that science outreach efforts by individual women cannot counteract structural inequities and that women are doing outreach at a cost to their own careers. We concur that collective action and structural change are needed to diversify science and improve when such reform is absent or too slow, individual efforts fill the vacuum and should not be condemned.

Along with hundreds of other scientists, we devote time and energy to individual public engagement initiatives, while pushing for institutional reforms to support more scientists who wish to engage effectively. These reforms would provide support and incentives through professional recognition, financial and logistical resources, networks of support, and an inclusive culture and capacity for public engagement. With support, more scientists could develop collaborative and innovative engagement practices to broaden participation in science. While changing the culture of public engagement, we must similarly push to dismantle other structural barriers to women and minorities in the sciences. To accelerate these changes, data collection and learning networks would enable us to improve the effectiveness of our efforts to create a diverse workforce and tackle science-societal challenges. Individual action versus structural change is not an “either/or” question; it is a “yes, and.”

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